Kawhi Leonard thanks Spurs in first statement since trade to Raptors

NBA trade news Kawhi Leonard joined the Toronto Raptors last month

NBA trade news Kawhi Leonard joined the Toronto Raptors last month

More than two weeks after being traded to the Raptors, Leonard broke his silence and submitted a letter to the San Antonio Express-News thanking the Spurs organization.

"While I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my career", Leonard wrote.

Leonard singled out Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the letter, saying "I'll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance". That year, 22-year-old Leonard became the youngest NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP). There is not a more passionate or dedicated fan base than what I've witnessed in San Antonio.

"Through all the ups and downs - I'm glad there were many more ups!" - I'll never forget what we shared and accomplished together.

Leonard had a bitter exit from San Antonio after he requested for a trade for his lack of trust in the Spurs organization.

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Leonard is known as a very private and quiet athlete, but on Thursday he did release his first statement and while it's full of "thank you's" towards his former club, there's no mention about his new team.

The statement is his first public address since the deal that sent him and Danny Green to Toronto for a package centred around guard DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan openly criticized Masai Ujiri, claiming the Raptors president promised he wouldn't trade him. He appeared in nine games for the Spurs in 2017-18, last playing on January 13 before sitting out the rest of the season with a quad injury.

Leonard, through his camp, publicly announced that Los Angeles is his preferred destination with the Lakers as his priority.

Kawhi Leonard hasn't spoken publicly in months, as he last met with the media prior to his self-imposed exile from the Spurs to NY to rehab his quad injury.

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